Hanyu Yuzuru reflects on university degree: "It was hard but I learned a lot."

The two-time Olympic figure skating champion graduated in September from Waseda University in Japan, where he studied human information science.

By Nick McCarvel

Double Olympic figure skating champion university Hanyu Yuzuru is now a university graduate too.

The Japanese superstar has been reflecting on completing his degree in Human Information Science from Waseda University last month, and how it could help him on the ice as well as in life.

Hanyu explored digital data and 3D motion capture in relation to movement on the ice (including his own jumping passes), studies that he aims to apply to his own programs moving forward.

He told the Waseda University website, "I've been walking in the world of figure skating, but I wanted to see myself expressed in numbers and data. The numbers support my senses, so it's also useful for competitions. Every time the scoring method is updated, I update my program. I still use it."

Hanyu initially enrolled at Waseda in 2013, but attended many of his classes via online platforms as he trained and competed.

The 26-year-old won gold at both Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018, becoming the first men’s singles skater to win back-to-back Olympic titles since Dick Button in 1948 and 1952.

Hanyu melded his passion for the sport with his university studies: At Waseda, he used computer programming skills to help build a program which calculates the highest score that can be earned for a skate by entering the performance elements and matching it with human ability.

He said: “I wanted to make a breakthrough not only in competition but also in the field of research. To prove that there is a possibility of new research, I chose a theme that only I can do.

"In the future, I want to help improve areas like the skills of athletes or automatic scoring by AI. I want to use it for the development of the figure skating world."

Hanyu is set to return to competitive ice later this month at the Japanese national championships, held 23-27 December in Nagano. It will mark his first major competition since he won Four Continents in February in South Korea.

Hanyu normally trains under Calgary 1988 silver medallist Brian Orser in Toronto.

He returned home to Japan earlier this year and remained there through the COVID-19 pandemic, opting not to take part in the Grand Prix Series out of concern for his own health and the health of others.

And he voiced the importance of online learning for the completion of his degree.

"“Studying through e-school gave me an opportunity to learn how to manage my time and switch off when I needed to. It's up to me to create a place for learning. If I have the will to learn, it will hone my values and increase knowledge. I definitely didn't want to waste what I learned.

"The days of my research have given me the power to analyse and verify everything while looking at them from multiple perspectives. This will definitely be useful not only in figure skating, but also in the rest of my life."